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Wood production in Europe slows down while North America shows rapid growth

Surge in wood pellet production driven by increased demand for bioenergy Photo: Korea Forest Service Wood pellets, used as renewable fuel in boilers, South Korea. 18 December 2013, Rome - Europe's share of global wood markets fell in 2012 due to the economic recession in the region, while North America and Asia-Pacific showed the fastest recovery over the same period, according to new data published by FAO today. Economic recovery in Europe, including the Russian Federation, slowed down in 2012, and wood production dropped by 1 to 4 percent for most of the products compared to 2011. These trends were driven by economic stagnation or recession in some countries in western and southern Europe in 2012. As a result, the demand for forest products has shrunk and Europe's share of global markets has fallen on average by 1 to 2 percent from 2011, depending on the forest product. Stronger markets in North America and Asia-Pacific While recovering from the recession in 2011, North America demonstrated a sharp increase in 2012 in industrial roundwood and sawnwood production (by 6 percent), while wood panel production increased by 2 percent compared to 2011. This was mainly due to the recovery in the housing market. At the same time, pulp and paper continued to decline, which reflected the shift from printed to electronic media in recent years. Asia-Pacific continues to increase in importance as a producer and consumer of forest products, with China taking the lead. Sawnwood production in the region climbed by 11 percent and panels by 6 percent compared to 2011. Surge in wood pellet production Wood pellet production has increased 10 times in the last decade, mainly due to the demand created by policies and bioenergy targets in Europe. The first ever published data on wood pellets launched by FAO show that in 2012 global production of wood pellets amounted to 19 million tonnes with about half of this (9.3 million tonnes) traded internationally, compared to only 2 million tonnes a decade ago. Europe and North America account for almost the entire global production (66 and 31 percent respectively) and consumption of pellets (80 and 17 percent respectively). "Overall, the global wood products market is on the road to recovery at different rates around the world," said Eduardo Rojas-Briales, Assistant Director-General for Forestry. "There are positive signs that demand for wood products, especially those that are used in the bioenergy sector, will be growing over the next couple of years. However, the magnitude and success of this recovery will ultimately rely on the health of the general economy".